The Bog Bodies of the Iron Age: The Clonycavan Man and the Old Croghan Man (Belen Gimenez)

8 Feb

After visiting the National Museum of Ireland, the exhibition that catches my attention the most was the one called Kingship & Sacrifice. This exhibition, part of the Archeology section, consisted of the showing of bog bodies and related findings. After encountering bunch of architectural spiral-shaped labyrinths that took me to see the found bodies very closely and to my amazement, I was curious about the stories of the mysterious bodies in the exhibition.
The Old Croghan Man and the Clonycavan Man are the two main features of this exhibition. These two bodies are the representation of the Iron Age and according archeological findings, they are around 2,300 years old.
These bodies have been preserved in bogs and they were discovered 12 years ago, in 2003. I had to look up to the meaning of the word bog in order to understand what it was and how it was possible for these bodies to end up this way. According to the information given by the international specialists who worked with the Irish Antiquities and the Conservation Department of the National Museum of Ireland, the one known as the Clonycavan Man was dropped off a peat cutting machine in Clonycavan, Co. Meath, and the one known as the Old Croghan Man was discovered in Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly during the clearing of a drainage ditch that workmen were doing through a peat bog. Another interesting comparison between the bodies is that according to the analysis done on them, they had different diets. The Clonycavan man’s diet was rich in vegetables, while the Old Croghan Man’s diet consisted on more meat.
What I also noticed from the exhibition was that some of the other go bodies were found in other countries. For example, there were findings in Denmark, as I remember. The exhibition also presented a theory about the proliferation of bog bodies that were discovered along ancient tribal boundaries and royal land; this theory links the findings of those bodies with sovereignty and kingship sacrificial rituals during the Iron Age. This means that the bodies must have probably been sacrificed to the gods of fertility in order to encourage a good harvest at the inauguration of a new reign. There is also the link of these bodies with the inauguration rituals of kings, which can be traced back to the Bronze Age.
This exhibition made me analyze the significance of different rituals that were done in the past, which involved the preservation of bodies. Seeing these bodies so well preserved considering how old they are, had a big impact in me, as I have never seen such a thing before, and especially in such a close manner. In a way, seeing the bones in some of the bodies made me realize how fragile and vulnerable our physiognomy can be, and that I am too made of the same things as these guys did. In synthesis, that weird pattern of thinking made me be grateful I am still alive, out and about.

old crogham manClonycavan-Man


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